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AS and A Level: Seamus Heaney
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Seamus Heaney's biography
- 1 He is a Northern Irish poet and playwright. He was born in 1939.
- 2 He is the eldest of nine children and was brought up on a farm.
- 3 His childhood provides material for a great deal of his poetry.
- 4 The Troubles (ie: the conflict in Northern Ireland) are also alluded to in his poetry.
- 5 He won the Nobel Prize for Literature and his books account for two thirds of sales of living poets in the UK.
Heaney's ideas and expression
- 1 A lot of Heaney's poems are autobiographical and he draws upon the experiences of his childhood.
- 2 He describes the local surroundings in his poems and the natural world. Heaney often uses specialist farming lexis to give his poems greater authenticity.
- 3 Mid-Term Break describes the death of his four year old brother and The Barn shows how terrified he was of the dark barn with its weapon like tools.
- 4 An important theme is his father and the respect and admiration he has for him this can be seen in both the Follower and Digging.
- 5 He uses descriptive imagery and evokes the senses. Although he uses free verse at times the power of Heaney’s poetry lies in rhythm created by alliteration, enjambment and repetition.
Top tips for writing essays on poetry
- 1 Embed quotations to show understanding and knowledge of poems.
- 2 Refer to the essay question in conclusion, introduction and topic sentences.
- 3 Use poetry terminology to show understanding of the techniques Seamus used in creating the poem.
- 4 Avoid describing the content - analyse the poem.
- 5 When comparing and contrasting two or more poems use the language of comparison and similarly discuss the similarities and differences of the poems.
- Peer Reviewed essays 5
In 1975 North was published, winning the E.M. Forster Award and the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. During these years at Glanmore, Heaney also gave many readings in the United States and England and edited two poetry anthologies. In 1975 Heaney began teaching at Carysfort College in Dublin. In 1976 the family moved to Sandymount, in Dublin, and Heaney became Department Head at Carysfort. In 1979 he published Field Work, and in 1980, Selected Poems and Preoccupations: Selected Prose. In 1981 he gave up his post at Carysfort to become a visiting professor at Harvard.
- Word count: 4150
Then there is a flashback to twenty years earlier, where the poem changes to past tense. The persona thinks of his father working on the fields digging for potatoes. It tells us that his father was very skilful and was probably an expert at digging because of the phrases "in rhythm" and "potato drills". The word "digging" pops us again at the end of the third stanza as it is at the end of the second. The word seems to haunt or irritate the poet because he feels he is letting down his ancestors.
- Word count: 3087
For example, â€œThe squat pen rests; snug as a gunâ€. Here the pen is compared to a gun. Though not physically, a pen or a written word can also hurt people. 10. Hyperbole â€“ exaggeration of text Poetic devices used in the poem Repetition â€“ between my finger and my thumb my squat pen rests Potentially free verse with no strict rhyme used Key words instead of this shows * Illustrates * Demonstrates * Elucidates * Epitomises * Highlights * Depicts * Conveys Substantiates Digging key quotes The poem is about heaneys admiration for paternal figures and farming heritage.
- Word count: 4193